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NEW: Tennis Hall of Fame Refuses to Cut Ties with Sharapova

Thursday, March 17, 2016

 

Maria Sharapova, PHOTO: Wikipedia

The International Tennis Hall of Fame, which in 2014 entered into a partnership with Maria Sharapova and her Sugarpova line of candy, is saying that it is "declining to comment" on the tennis star's failed drug test and the future of their agreement. 

Multiple sponsors including Nike, Porsche and TAG Heuer suspended or dropped Sharapova after she admitted to failing the drug test. The Tennis Hall of Fame -- who characterized Sharapova's Sugarpova as a "sponsor and underwriter" at the launch of the partnership which includes giving free admission to children to the museum -- refused to take position.

"We are declining to comment," said Ann Marie McLaughlin on Wednesday.

Head, Sharapova's tennis racket supplier, has continued its sponsorship of her.

She has since been provisionally banned from playing tennis by the International Tennis Federation  and was also suspended by the United Nations where she worked as a goodwill ambassador.

Close Relationship

The relationship between Sharapova and the Hall of Fame made Sharapova an official sponsor and underwriter of the Hall of Fame's Kids Free Program.

"We are delighted and grateful to welcome Sugarpova as an official sponsor of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. Maria is an extraordinary role model within the sport, and we appreciate her commitment toward our mission to inspire young people to get involved in tennis. The museum is an exciting place where families and children of all ages can explore the game's rich history in an educational and entertaining way. By offering free admission to children we hope they will be inspired by the game's traditions and become life-long players and fans," said Mark L. Stenning, then-CEO of Hall of Fame in 2014. Stenning was replaced by former pro tennis player Todd Martin in 2015.

A portion of sales from Sugarpova went to support the Maria Sharapova Foundation.

Sharapova's Fall From Grace

In 2015, Forbes listed Sharapova's net worth as $29.7 million, making her the highest earning female athlete in the world. Sharapova is a five-time Grand Slam winner and former world number one player.

On March 7, 2016, Sharapova admitted to testing positive, during the Australian Open, for the banned substance meldonium, a legal drug prescribed to treat heart conditions. Sharapova called taking the banned substance "a huge mistake."

 

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